Microsoft User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) in action

by Dmitry Kirsanov 20. April 2012 14:41

A few days ago Microsoft released beta of their new technology called User Experience Virtualization, or UE-V. The name implies that it has something to do with virtualization, but it’s just a buzzword. What UE-V does – it synchronizes user settings across workstations, in real time.

Imagine, that you have to log into multiple workstations, and what you want to have is the same settings of all applications you are using in your work. For example, spelling options in Microsoft Office, the layout of buttons, menus and colors – all the little pains that accumulates into the strong headache of roaming for some.

UE-V vs. roaming profiles

The roaming profile could be the answer, but for most of us it’s not. Some of us don’t even have the Active Directory profiles, but still desire the same user experience throughout the environment (translation to human language: every desktop of yours looks and behaves the same).

The difference with roaming is also in fact that in UE-V you only synchronize what you want to, not everything. So it works faster and has less space for errors.

Important thing about UE-V is that it allows the IT pro to deliver user state management by delivering settings when and where users work throughout the enterprise - working equally well in all deployment environments such as VDI, fixed desktops and mobile laptops. So, if you change settings and looks of your Microsoft Word at your main workstation, the changes will be propagated to your laptop as well.

In the video below I’ve set up the lab with two workstations – Windows 7 Ultimate x64 and Windows 7 Enterprise x32, and demonstrate how UE-V looks like in real life. There is no setup process in the video for a simple reason – you just have to install the MSI package of the UE-V agent, and there is no server back-end. It uses simple file share on your file server to exchange the settings.

3rd Party Applications in UE-V

It is possible for software developers and deployment specialists to create profiles for UE-V which enable settings synchronization for 3rd party applications. The process is very straightforward, the format of the profile files is simple XML, so there is nothing to worry about – chances are, everything you want to be synchronized, could be synchronized.

System Requirements of UE-V

  • Windows 7 and up. This means that it also works on Windows Server 2008 R2, which is built on the same core as Windows 7, but will not install on Windows Server 2008, which has the core of Windows Vista. It perfectly works on Windows 8.
  • Offline Files feature should be turned on. It’s turned on in Windows 7, but is off by default on servers.
  • Either file share or shared Active Directory home directory. In case of file share, server could be even Samba.

Video of Microsoft User Experience Virtualization in action


Microsoft User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) in action

Installing Microsoft User Experience Virtualization Agent

That’s quite straightforward. You only have to prepare shared folder on file server and install one MSI package on the client. Here is the complete HowTo screencast (it’s without sound, so you don’t need headphones, read captions!)

Installing Microsoft User Experience Virtualization Agent

Resume

Although more or less similar solutions are provided by VMware and others, it appears that Microsoft’s UE-V will take the market by simple fact that all system administrators will know how to use it. I believe that UE-V will become part of Microsoft’s MCSE certification, which will make it a de-facto standard. The same thing happened with Hyper-V, which “came late to the party” and became the standard in server virtualization. And this all is a good news for us, consumers, as it implies that Microsoft competitors will have to make the industry better in attempt to win the market back.

Link to UE-V beta (Windows Live ID required)

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